Villagers in Kuyello community, within the vast expanse of Birnin Gwari Local Government Area in Kaduna State, have expressed concern over the presence of Ansaru militants in their communities.
Daily Trust gathered that the recent visit to the village by the sect members on motorcycles has raised fears among the inhabitants of the area.
Just a few days ago, the sect members made an unexpected appearance in the peaceful village, expressing their willingness to establish a foothold among the locals.
However, instead of a warm embrace, the villagers told them to stay away from their area because they believed their main aim is to recruit their youth into the ranks of the extremist group.
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Recent reports said the Ansaru group has been operating in neighbouring villages, including Kazage, Unguwar Gwandu, Unguwar Gajere, and old Kuyello, luring unsuspecting youths into their fold. The objective is to bolster their numbers and influence within the LGA.
In a desperate attempt to safeguard their community, the residents of Kuyello took a bold step by sending representatives of the town, who are mostly clerics, to inform leaders of the group that the people of Kuyello did not want their presence in the town. However, the extremist group leaders, in response, threatened to enter the village by force.
The representatives told them they would resist any attempt by the group to enter their village and they (Ansaru) went back to their hideout.
The locals said the aim of sending the representatives was to advise the extremists against settling in the village to avoid any confrontation.
The sect members’ stance left the villagers in a state of deep concern as they vehemently opposed the notion of having Ansaru members as neighbours, because of the potential risks that could arise from such proximity.
They are recruiting our youth, marrying our daughters… – Villagers
One of the locals and a community leader, Malam Muhammadu Kuyello, confirmed that on the first day, the sect members rode through the town along Dan Auta Street without speaking to anybody.
He said their arrival was a surprise to the people, even though the residents were aware of their presence in neighbouring villages and the bush. However, they rarely rode into the town because the people of New Kuyello had made it clear that they were not welcome.
“We never gave them a chance to come into our town to avoid luring our youths to join them or marrying our daughters. But on Saturday and Sunday, we were caught by surprise as they came in. Our discussion with them was not pleasant,” he said.
He further explained that presently they have lured about 50 local youths in Old Kuyello village into their group as well as married about seven girls from the town.
Kuyello also explained that recently, the group took away a young girl from the Old Kuyello and stayed with her for six months in the forest, only to return her and ask for her hand in marriage, which was done.
He said the only solution is for the government to deploy soldiers in Old Kuyello town because already the group has turned Old Kuyello into their base, adding that they are already preaching in most of the communities under Kutemeshi ward, trying to sell their ideology to the community members.
He said if the government deploys more personnel around Old Kuyello village, the militants would have no choice but to abandon the area.
Another local, a youth leader in the area, Babanyara Isa, said if the authorities fail to act, the residents will be left with no option but to confront the sect members if they try to establish a presence in the village.
He added that the community had already informed all the relevant authorities and community leaders within the LGA, urging them to take the necessary action on the issue, but nothing was done.
Another resident, Surajo Isah, lamented recently in an open letter sent to the state governor, Senator Uba Sani, in which he explained that Ansaru is now gaining access to wherever they wanted to be, though they hardly explain their motives to the locals.
Isah said they are tired of living in fear and suffering in silence, adding that they, like other citizens of the state, deserve to live in peace.
“We deserve to live in dignity and harmony as citizens of Kaduna State. His Excellency will need to know that on 07/10/2023, Ansaru Sect members came to Kuyello on their motorcycles, and on 08/10/2023, they came back,” he said.
Sujaro added that the Ansaru militants have their rules that nobody should enter farms and bushes around Kuyello on weekends, and when some people violated those rules they were detained for weeks but later released with a strong warning.
He lamented that the Danwandara axis, which is between Kuyello and Layin Nakurmu, has become a dangerous zone where people are being killed and kidnapped daily by bandits operating around the axis as if there are no securities in the country.
Chairman of Birnin Gwari Emirate Progressive Union (BEPU), Ishaq Kasai, confirmed the report on the sighting of the sect members in the New Kuyello area.
The chairman said the locals are concerned because they feel uneasy each time, they see the sect members around their communities.
Security agencies are doing their best – Police
When contacted the State Police Command Public Relations Officer, ASP Mansir Hassan, stated that he was not in a position to comment on the issue now.
However, in a recent interview with a radio station he was quoted as saying that it would be difficult for security agents to be in every community.
He was the police and other security agencies were doing their best to tackle the situation.
He said three years ago, security agencies engaged the terrorists, in which about 200 of them were killed.
He added that police, soldiers, and local vigilantes will continue to work together to tackle the situation.